Want to get up close to Parliament House’s 150-year-old history? Until recently you booked high tea, and you booked well in advance.

But that changed in June, when Parliament House quietly began to welcome the public in for lunch and dinner. On set dates outside of busy parliament weeks (when the kitchen pumps out as many as 50 banquets), executive chef Andrew McCrea and his team cook for the public. Given the location, it’s fitting the food highlights Queensland produce.

“Out of all the states, this is the best for produce,” McCrea says. “A lot of our vegetables come from Gatton. We’ve got cheese coming out of Mount Cotton. There’s citrus and fruit from up north. [Great produce] reflects in your cooking.”

The dining options introduced in June are the Sometimes Strangers lunch and the Chef’s Table dinner.

The lunch (named after the Strangers’ Dining Room in which it’s held) involves a three-course meal with complimentary house-made bread and butter, snacks, and cheese. Dishes on past lunch menus include braised and oak-smoked Warwick beef cheek with baby corn, shortbread crumb and amaranth.

This is as close as you’ll get to dining like a parliamentarian; you sit in the same seats and eat off the same gold-trimmed parliamentary plates.

Chef’s Table is an intimate 10-seat dining experience in the parliament’s kitchen area. The five-course dinner starts with snacks and is followed by dishes such as Hervey Bay scallops with pig jowl, cumquat and toasted buttermilk. A 13-component dessert is plated in the middle of the table.

“When people come [to dine] here they think it's going to be very old and stuffy,” McCrea says. “[But] really, our food represents Queensland. It’s smart, new, quirky and full of little surprises.”

Like the food, much of the wine on offer comes from Queensland producers. Bottles are stored in a 135-year-old cellar, which has also opened to the public as a function space suitable for eight to 12 sit-down guests.

Buy tickets to the Sometimes Strangers lunch and Chef’s Table dinner here.